Posted BY: Selwyn Duke

“Truth is the first casualty of war,” the apocryphal saying goes. This certainly appears the case with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, too. On the one hand, most media reportage holds that Vladimir Putin’s forces are poorly and under-equipped, ineffective, demoralized, are sometimes sabotaging their own military, and that Ukraine is wounding the Bear mightily. A good example is a new Foreign Affairs article titled “Putin Is Going to Lose His War.”

On the other hand, Colonel Douglas Macgregor (ret.), a highly credible source, speaks for a minority of voices in maintaining that all the billions in weaponry the United States is sending to Ukraine won’t change the outcome — Putin is going win his war. So the truth is hard to ferret out. But now a voice from the front lines, so to speak, lends credence to the latter position:

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Russia’s campaign is going according to plan, media propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.

Ernest Sipes, a dispatch reporter for Associated Reporters Abroad, has, among other things, “visited and reported on Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Oman, Republic of Georgia, Republic of Congo and Somalia,” his bio relates. And now he has just returned from a three-week fact-finding trip to Ukraine during which he collected information from various people, a process that included visiting and speaking with the nation’s soldiers. He also was present for missile attacks in different cities and dozens of artillery barrages.

Sipes emphasizes that Russia’s invasion was wrong, that the loss of life is tragic, and that his heart lies with the Ukrainian defenders. Yet he also states that, as The New American has illustrated, the Russo-Ukrainian relationship is “complicated.”

Putin’s military action is, too, says Sipes. In fact, far from any goal of conquering Ukraine, Russia appears to have a limited set of objectives, the journalist states. He perceives them to be the following:

  1. [Securing a] route to the Black Sea.
  2. [Achieving the] unification of areas perceived as belonging to Russia and whose citizens (a majority at least) desire to join Russia.
  3. [Sending a] notice to the world that the lands that once formed the Soviet Bloc are still under the guidance of Moscow at some level.
  4. To discourage Ukraine and surrounding nations from joining NATO/EU.
  5. To illustrate that all of Eastern Europe is still under the influence of Moscow.

Sipes claims that in light of the above, Moscow’s actions make more sense. He then avers:

Despite what the media is presenting, the army of the Russian Federation is not made up of rampaging Orcs who rape, murder, and pillage. And they have not, as we are told, [been] bested in every contest with the Ukrainian army. Additionally, Moscow’s army is not exhausted and out of fuel, equipment, and supplies. There have not been mass desertions from Russia’s army. What you are reading is the typical propaganda that always seems to show up in a war in this region. I saw the exact same thing and devices used in the 2008 South Ossetia War when I worked for the newspaper Georgia Today and that particular Russian Invasion was occurring.

Sipes also echoes a point that Douglas Macgregor once made: Russia has actually been quite restrained in its prosecution of the war. He emphasizes that in thus opining he’s not defending Putin’s actions, but is merely relating the facts as he perceives them.

Sipes explains that the limited goals he outlined above would make clear why there’s been no wholesale destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, even though the nation is highly vulnerable to aerial bombardment and ill-equipped to defend all its vital areas. The journalist provides anecdotes, maps, and data to support his assertions.

Sipes also buttresses his thesis by pointing out that given how the Dnieper River divides Ukraine into east-west halves, if Russia really wanted to conquer the country, it would:

  1. Strike and destroy bridges over the Dnieper River at Kiev, Cherkasy, Dnipro, and Zaporizhzhia using TU22 and TU60 heavy bombers or the equivalent.
  2. Destroy the railroad yards at Lviv, Kiev, Dnipro, Poltava, and Uman using a combination of TU 22s and fighter bombers such as the Sukhoi 34 and the Tupolev 160.
  3. Basically rinse and repeat the above for the highways systems M06 and MO3 at Kiev, the M12 at Kirovgard, the MO4 at Dnipro, and the M20 at Kharkiv.
  4. Send in any suitable aircraft to simply shoot up the rail and road systems after the above was completed.
  5. Target with 9K720s truck mounted surface-to-surface missiles and destroy electrical stations in key towns such as Lviv, Kiev, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia. This would have several effects, one being it would demoralize the citizens in the cities that were hit.

Sipes further claims that Russia enjoys — again, despite propaganda to the contrary — complete air superiority and could effect the above in just a week.

He then points out that if Moscow did take the above actions, the results would be:

  1. With the bridges and other transport infrastructure destroyed, no fuel, military equipment, food or goods would move west to east.
  2. Internal military communications would be severely disrupted.
  3. Refugees would be swarming the bridge sites on the eastern side of the river, which would impede movement even more and produce an almost unimaginable humanitarian crisis.
  4. Virtually no military equipment or reinforcements could be moved into the eastern areas in Donbas, Odessa, etc. to reinforce the already stressed Ukrainian defenders.
  5. With the eastern part of the country cut off, after a few weeks what Ukrainian forces left in that region would be forced to surrender.

Sipes finds it striking that he could travel around Ukraine, observe the aforementioned and conclude that Moscow is waging this war with, he estimates, 10 percent of its capabilities and yet the mainstream media pushes the fiction of impending Russian demise.

The reporter also states that if wide-scale destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure does begin, we’ll know that Putin has changed strategy. As for now, however, Russia appears to be systematically accomplishing the precise objectives it established back on February 24, Sipes concludes.

All this said, it’s hard knowing what the truth is amid the fog of war. For example, while Macgregor is a fine source, he incorrectly predicted on March 4 that Russia would successfully conclude the Ukraine campaign in about 10 days.

What is certain is that reckless NATO expansion has contributed to this situation and Ukraine is not our fight — and that it’s not a cause over which it’s worth risking nuclear war.